Recently-professed Friars Appreciate Sharing, Listening

Casey Cole, OFM Friar News

The SPUFY friars with their mentor Steven Patti, fourth from right.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After many years in initial formation — a time in which student friars live with our peers, are offered various opportunities for fraternal guidance, and are supported by a structured way of life — friars make their solemn professions and are sent out to live as ministers of the Church, often in very unfamiliar, even difficult, environments.

What do we do when we find the stress of ministry to be greater than we expected? How do we handle an uncomfortable fraternal situation? To whom do we go to process the joys and struggles of being a priest, a working professional, or a student in higher education?

While our local fraternities can be excellent sources of support, nothing, it seems is more helpful than sharing with our peers, those with whom we have spent so much time and who know us so intimately. Thus, each year all of the Holy Name Province friars solemnly professed under five years (SPUFY) meet for an informal retreat to share our stories and catch up with one another.

This year, nine friars attended the annual meeting, gathering from Jan. 2 to 4 at St. Anthony Friary in St. Petersburg. Our group comprised John Aherne, OFM, George Camacho, OFM, Ross Chamberland, OFM, Edgardo Jara, OFM, Jeffrey Jordan, OFM, Abraham Joseph, OFM, Michael Reyes, OFM, and me — along with Steve Patti, OFM, as a mentor. We came from locations around the country — from Illinois to New York, Boston to Washington, D.C. Our ministries and roles vary as well. A few of us are in full-time studies, either for ordination or higher studies; others work on college campuses as directors and mentors; and still others minister in parishes as parochial vicars.

While spending a few hours each day in prayerful reflection during our SPUFY gathering, each participant shared how he was doing, what had challenged him in the past year, and what his hopes were for the next. As usual, the sharing was honest and the friars were vulnerable, a testament to our commitment to one another.

If there is sharing, there is also listening, and many remarked that hearing what others were doing — being invited into their joys and struggles — was as fruitful as sharing their own stories. Given the wide variety of experiences coming together, there was something inspirational about everyone’s story, and the whole group was blessed with the opportunity to hear from the others.

Friar life may have its challenges, but knowing that others are walking along with you, carrying their own struggles and responding with joy, leaves us with nothing but gratitude.

— Br. Casey is a formation student stationed at Blessed Giles Friary in Chicago, Il. He professed his solemn vows in 2017  and shares news, photos and ideas on his YouTube channel Breaking in the Habit, on his website, and on various social media accounts.

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